We’re still a little bit miffed over the fact that we were fooled into falling in love with strategy card games in the first place. Metal Gear AC!D dropped right under our collective radars, and turned us into obsessive collecting freaks. The sequel, Metal Gear Ac!d 2, throws fresh salt in those wounds. An avalanche of new cards marks the return of this highly varied, wickedly addictive, trading card/strategy game. We know our made-up genre sounds weird, but that's really what it is. This series is one-of-a-kind.
Metal Gear Ac!d 2 is a show-horse for the PSP’s powerhouse portable technology. Vivid, detailed graphics leap out at you (literally so, if you use the new Solid Eye 3D viewer attachment). This stereoscopic add-on is cooler than the other side of the proverbial pillow - you’ll want your friends to see it immediately.
But, in the end, no one wants to play awkwardly on this jury-rigged View-Master for longer than 30 seconds. Worry not - Ac!d 2 has much more to offer than this passing novelty.
Ac!d 2 has turned 180 degrees away from the look of the original, which was a dark, low-contrast nightmare to play in full daylight. The shadowy corners and macabre storyline have been exchanged for garish color and rollicking action; and an equally pulp fiction-esque plot. This matters little; the core gameplay is unassailable - filled with anticipation, triumph and depth.
Card-based games are really less about the story than they are about the cards themselves. Adding a single, powerful new card to Snake's deck can completely change your strategic outlook. Both Metal Gear Ac!d games use the same rule system, and cards generally fall into one of four categories. EQUIP cards go into one of your equipment slots until they are used, like armor, for example. USE cards have a one-time effect (like weapons), or can be used for movement if you don’t have a target. MOVE cards are specifically for movement, and COST cards allow you to play more cards from your hand in a single turn. Of course, there are dozens of cards that are special; rare breeds that can magically turn the whole game on its head. Combinations are endless, maddening and thrilling all at once.
If you aren’t careful, the collector in you may spend dozens - or even hundreds - of hours hunting the rarest (and generally the most powerful) cards in the game. There are over 550 cards in Ac!d 2, up from just about 200 in the original. This massive amount means that you’ll be spending more time re-doing missions just to earn extra points (which you’ll use to purchase additional decks). In the first game, this was a grind, with only one or two ways to replay a level you had previously cleared. Ac!d 2 offers you several different “side quests” for each area, presenting alternative puzzles. Some of these challenges are insanely tough, but give you a chance to lay down different card combos, and figure out what new cards actually do in combat.
Snake is back, but don’t let his fluffy, forgettable story fool you; he brought a lot of game with him. If you think “owning them all” is a pastime reserved for small children, you are wrong. Soon you'll be nodding and smiling at tables full of ensconced Magic players, and waving at the kids buying Yu-Gi-Oh! packs.
We won't say we told you so, but we are gonna give you the look.